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By Angela Hickey

Aired live on Sunday, September 19, the 73rd annual Emmy Awards attracted attention from across the country as audiences waited to see which of their favorite shows would go home with the coveted award.

Hosted by Cedric the Entertainer at The Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, the 2021 Emmy Awards celebrated the best and brightest of TV over the past year, with trophies given out to a wide array of acclaimed dramas, comedies and limited series. And, even though last years’ host Jimmy Kimmel addressed a fully empty auditorium, Cedric had the privilege of addressing a fully in-person audience. 

Despite the fully in-person status, COVID-19 was still a major concern for attendees.

“The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences will require all Emmy Awards attendees to show proof that they are fully vaccinated against coronavirus,” Forbes reported in July 2021. 

The event’s red carpet was also pared down, which the Television Academy announced in an August 2021 statement: “There will be a very limited red carpet for talent arrivals”—meaning that not all of the media outlets that were usually granted access were present this time around. Likewise, there were expected to be fewer people in attendance once the night had gotten underway.

Streaming services have been dominating the nominations in recent years and 2021 is no different, from The Boys and Bridgeton, which were both up for Best Drama Series, to multiple acting nominations for new series’ like Lovecraft Country and Ted Lasso. Meanwhile, Disney+ racked up dozens of nominations despite only getting released at the tail end of 2019, earning multiple nods for two of its most popular shows, The Mandalorian and WandaVision, as well as for the Hamilton film that premiered last summer.

In fact, The Mandalorian tied with The Crown as this year’s most-nominated series with 24 nods apiece, followed closely by WandaVision with 23. Across all the networks and streaming services, HBO Max earned a pack-leading 130 nods thanks to an array of shows like Mare of Easttown, Hacks, I May Destroy You, In Treatment, The Flight Attendant, Lovecraft Country and more, with Netflix right behind at 120 and Disney+ in third at 71 nominations.

There were more than a few surprises when it came to giving out awards, with The Queen’s Gambit winning two awards and beating out Mare of Easttown for Best Limited Series. Ted Lasso was also a big winner that night, taking home four awards in categories such as Best Comedy Series and Best Comedy Actor for Jason Sudeikis. 

Unsurprisingly, The Crown took home the most wins of the night with a whopping seven awards, including a Best Lead Actress win for series regular Olivia Colman. And new drama series Mare of Easttown took home three awards overall, with Kate Winslet winning Best Actress in a Limited Series. Plus, Evan Peters won his first Emmy for Best Supporting Actor, garnering cheers from fans all over the internet who think this win is long overdue, at least according to Twitter

Most surprisingly that night, the comedy Hacks, which scored three wins overall, took home writing and directing awards, as well as a Best Lead Actress in a comedy for the magnificent Jean Smart.

Last but certainly not least, Michaela Coel took home a hugely deserved win for Best Writing for a Limited Series with HBO’s I May Destroy You.

Controversially, the Emmys didn’t see a single person of color win an acting award, despite a record lineup of nominees this year. As a result, the hashtag #EmmysSoWhite began trending after all of the ceremony’s major acting awards went to all-white actors.

A similar Twitter trend #OscarsSoWhite led to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences introducing a mandatory diversity standard, coming into effect in 2024 for the 96th Academy Awards, that future films would have to meet in order to be eligible for the Best Picture Award. The standards require films to achieve diversity across a number of categories including on-screen representation, creative leadership, and audience development.

Whether or not this movement will have a similar effect on the Emmys remains to be seen.

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